ACBF's operations focused mainly on improving the macro-economic environment of African countries. The Foundation therefore supported the creation or enhancement of a large number of think tanks and policy institutes.
In 1999, the Foundation's mandate, objectives as well as scope and scale of operation were considerably broadened as a result of the decision of the Board of Governors to integrate a new initiative in capacity building - the Partnership for Capacity Building in Africa (PACT) - into the Foundation. PACT, like ACBF, grew from very extensive consultations between African governments and the donor community. The establishment of ACBF and the broadening of its mandate are therefore the direct result of new insights and a better understanding by the development community of a need for innovative approaches and enhanced interventions in the continent's capacity needs and thus of its development challenges.
The establishment of the Foundation has afforded African countries a significant opportunity to rethink the effectiveness of external technical assistance vis-à-vis the building of indigenous capacity. The existence of the Foundation has also provided sub-Saharan Africa an opportunity to step up investment and appropriately channel external funding support into the building and sustenance of indigenous capacity. As the new millennium unfolds, Africa's efforts to achieve reasonably stable levels of growth and development, reduce poverty, improve the quality of governance, tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and participate effectively in the rapid pace of globalization will be futile without a strong and sustained program for capacity building. At this stage of Africa's development, support by African governments and their development partners will need to go far beyond simply creating "enclaves" of capacity building interventions to commitments that will make a visible, meaningful, structural and lasting difference.